Title: Unraveling Oliver
Author: Liz Nugent
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Release Date: February 6, 2018
“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”
So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.
Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.
In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.
With its alternating points of view and deft prose, Unraveling Oliver is “a page-turning, one-sitting read from a brand new master of psychological suspense” (Sunday Independent) that details how an ordinary man can transform into a sociopath.
This is a very clever thriller.
The title is perfect for this book! Oliver’s story is unraveled through multiple perspectives. Many different people who have met and interacted with Oliver over his lifetime give accounts of the things that led to his attack on his wife. At first, these events seem unconnected and confusing. However, they are all threaded together by Oliver’s presence. Each person and their story weave together the person who Oliver has become.
The mystery slowly grew throughout the story. At the beginning, we have no idea why Oliver suddenly beat his wife. But as we learn more about Oliver, it becomes clear that he is unhinged. The ending connects all of the dots and proves Oliver’s guilt on multiple counts.
I often find multiple perspectives confusing. However, this was a great way to tell the story. Each perspective read like a police report, with all of the witnesses giving their accounts. Oliver also gave his point of view, though it didn’t help his case.
I loved this book. It’s a great thrilling mystery.